How to Shoot a Teen Model on a Beach and if your a photographer and you've had some experience in photographing people, models, children, fashion or weddings and you consider yourself good or at least comfortable in doing so, there should be no problems.
Or could there be: There are some very basic rules when it comes to shooting pictures of a minor and you have to be aware of this limitation.
Let me explain; A few years ago I was shooting a beach teen model and there was a bunch of young girls near by and they were obviously impressed by the attention that was being given to my young model girl, so much so that one of the girls had the courage to ask me if I could photograph them.
Having been in the business of shooting teen model swimwear on a beach and in the studio for more than 30 years, I could tell at a glance that of the five or six bikini model hopefuls, at least one of them had what it takes.
When pressed for an answer to their request to photograph them on the spot, the answer from me was a definite NO.
Did I hear you say I'm crazy, Do you know that if you point your camera at an under age "wannabe" model and start shooting pictures, you could most lightly end up in the courts or a hell of a lot worse.
And yes I know how hard it is to find a model at this age or any other age, but if you wish to shoot pictures of a minor, there are procedures to be followed
Never approach a minor by yourself and if her Mom or other senior member of her family is not present that's a definite NO, NO.
You first have to approach the Mom of the Teen, wannabe Model and unless Mom is 100% behind the idea of her daughter being a model, then forget about it.
The Teen Model's Mom or appointed guardian, will always have to be present at the shooting sessions. But remember one thing, however gorgeous and sexy looking she may be, you are photographing a minor, and I'll spell that out clearly for you, (A CHILD), and once you have that clearly in your head and, UNLESS you have the written permission of the childs Mom or guardian, don't even think about it!
Now having got that out of the way and lets assume you know the Mom of a penitential Teen Beach Model that you think looks really good, you'll need to run some test shots of her. This can be in the Studio or at a beach or other location.
Don't expect miracles from the new Teen Model and even if she wants, or more lightly her Mom wants her to be a model, it will take time to encourage her to feel at ease in front of the camera.
A good trick is to stop for Ice cream, especially on a hot Summers day if your working on the beach in the middle of Summer.
I found out that Teen Model Maayan loves lollipops, so believe it or not, I can still use that as 'bate' to perk her up and get the job done. Who said the good old days of the carrot and stick were dead! In fact when we visit the beach cafe, she is a big spender on Ice Creams and candy for later and is most happy for me to pick up the tab! For this I get that extra mile out of her when were working on the Beach, although we all usually enjoy ourselves and don't allow the schedules and the like to get in the way of a relaxed photo-shoot.
I mean if you can make at least part of your living on the beach, doing what you like to do, shooting pictures of a Model and everyone enjoys themselves as well, the way I look at it, it's a bonus.
You will need the Mom or guardian to sign a 'Minor Model Release' form after the shoot. This is a standard form in the Industry, giving the right to the photographer to use the photographs and stating that the parent or guardian has agreed for him to do so.
Now the technical stuff, what camera gear will you need, well I would say that the top of the range Pro Canon EOS Digital or Nikon Digital cameras are without a doubt the best. I personally think that the Canon has the advantage over other cameras as they seem to more understand the digital age. But there are also other very good cameras out there and just as good for a Teen Beach Shoot.
Did you know this fact, if you still use a pro or semi pro 35mm. SLR film camera and have the digital 1 hour Lab scan your negs to CD, in some cases you will get a good quality Image that will almost match the results of a digital camera.
You must work with a separate flash unit, as the camera's built in flash is not powerful enough. I find the best way to shoot a Teen Beach Bikini Model, is to work with your camera set to manual or Shutter Priority, in any case you can read the exposure that is necessary and then set you flash gun to AUTO, working with a flash ratio of 1 to 2.
Let me explain and cut through the technical jargon; Suppose your using film speed 100 ASA or Digital ISO 100 and you camera meter is telling you need an exposure of 125/second at f11, a flash ratio of 1 to 2, simply means that you set the flash on AUTO to f8. This will instruct your flash to reduce the power of the flash so as not to burn out the foreground. If you set the flash also to f11 the same as the exposure, it will have the effect of making the background darker, or burning out the forground and if your using digital you image will be over exposed. NB: Be careful not to set your cameras exposure time faster than the cameras flash sync speed.
That's all you really need to know. You can set your flash to auto and in some cases it will work OK, but be professional about your Teen Model Shoot and get yourself out of the "point and shoot" mode.
You do need to have a separate flash gun, the cameras flash is simply not powerful enough and sometimes will give a 'red eye' reflection and you've lost a shot.
If you are shooting a set up whare the teen Model is in a static position, use your tripod while your shooting off a few frames, but at 125second exposure there is little need most of the time, only in low light situations. If you notice in my shots, I like to explore different camera angles and this is best achieved without a tripod, I repeat, that's assuming your not in a low light situation.
Camera angels, Be prepared to get down on the ground and you will often find me working kneeling or lying in the water while shooting on the beach. Low camera angels always work well, especially with a teen shoot.
I work with an assistant some of the time, so if your risking you camera at low level over the water it's best to have someone ready to grab the camera when you finished the shot and avoiding ruining your prize photo gear while you extract yourself from the water.
I was working one time further out in the ocean than I should have done and was up to my waste in the water, when I got stuck in the sand. So I called the Models Mom to come and rescue me, well mainly the camera. Unlike the teen Model who was tall, Mom was a very short woman and had to wade out, fully clothed, up to her chest to rescue my camera while I dived in and swam out of trouble.
She looked great soaking wet and her clothes became see-through, much to her embarrassment. Now I call that a dedicated Teen Models Mom don't you. To make up for the what I put her through I bought them both lunch and we parted the best of friends, I think she liked the comment I made about her beautiful youthful figure when she was soaked.
While working with your new Teen Model on you Teen Beach shoot, talk to the model and try to encourage her by paying her complements, tell her how pretty she looks and as you shoot each frame tell her also how beautiful she was in the shot. This all helps to brake the ice and make you Model feel at ease in front of your camera. Lets put it this way, do you know of anybody that doesn't like compliments. However, dont expect to much in the way of return conversation, remember she is very young and possibly a little shy.
Good Luck and if you have any images you would like to share with me just let me know.
Maayan says: I've been reading what PhotoRog said, "the good old days of the carrot and stick", Wait until the next time I'm working with him on our Teen Beach location shoot, I'll show him and he may have a strike on his hands.
Watch out for more How-to shoot great Bikini Model pictures on the beach and there will be further new info tips soon.
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